Wednesday, 5th August 2009

Halloween ’09 press release, website and rumours

Halloween? Must be August! The regular location of the season’s flash mini-site — www.magichalloween.com — has been updated for the upcoming 2009 season beginning this October 3rd. Generally, the look is the same — save for one noticeable new ingredient: balloons, of course — orange ones!

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New official website

And so, this annual season, which has been meandering between different themes for several years since the arrival of the Pumpkin Men in 2003 and the thankfully short-lived focus on Stitch later, finally appears to have been set on a steady course.

Things are much more family-friendly than the early years of the festival, whilst much more “Disney” than the first seasons featuring the Pumpkin Men. Overall, the events are moving closer in style to their praised Tokyo and Hong Kong cousins. Mickey and Minnie will return in their perfect purple, orange and green costumes, whilst Jack Skellington and Sally return with greater prominence since their hugely successful 2008 debut.

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Jack & Sally joined the Paris season in 2008

Orange paint still features, however. Whilst this year the orange Main Street is explicitly mentioned in the press release, for the two previous years the decorations have actually been cancelled — only to return to the street at the last minute. It seems Entertainment simply didn’t have the money for a replacement.

Interesting to note, for example, that the “Mickey’s Magical Party Time!” theme song began life as a new Halloween theme song, but Entertainment — to quote composer Scott Erickson in our interview“didn’t have the budget last year to update the parade and change the Halloween song”. What with the new characters, costumes and major new nighttime hard ticket event in Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party introduced last year, it’s easy to understand why.

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Mickey’s new 2008 costume set the festival on the right track

So, we come to 2009. And, with the events of Mickey’s Magical Party continuing through the Halloween Festival, it’ll be looking slightly different again from its previous 15th Anniversary-tinted years…

Disney’s Halloween Festival… something BIG is brewing in October!

– From 3 October to 1 November 2009 –

Marne-la-Vallée, France, July 2009 – From 3 October 2009 through to 1 November 2009, Mickey’s Magical Party adds even more fun to a marvelous month of mischief and mayhem. It’s the perfect month to make family and friends scream with delight. Join Mickey as he welcomes the Disney Villains, Pumpkin Men and Pumpkin Ladies and the star of the season, Jack Skellington from Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas to celebrate Mickey’s Magical Party for a frighteningly fun Halloween surprises!

Welcome to the Disney Halloweenmosphere

A full month of thrills, spills and chills galore at Disneyland Park, as Halloween invades Frontierland and Main Street, U.S.A.® with decorations, eerie events and hair-raising shows, face painting and oodles of tricks and treats. Family and friends, young and old, everyone is sure to have a ghostly good time with…

… the stars of Nightmare Before Christmas

Jack Skellington and his friend Sally, the stars of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, are back to captivate Disney’s Halloween Festival with their bewitching world.

… mischievous Pumpkin tricksters

When Disneyland Paris goes orange, you know the Pumpkin Men and Pumpkin Ladies can’t be far away. They are just itching to splash the road and shop fronts of Main Street, U.S.A. with their bright orange paint. Masters of the most devious decoration, mischievous jokes and pranks, Pumpkin Citizens take Frontierland by storm as they transform it into Halloweenland for a howling good time! No one can escape the antics of those uncontrollable Pumpkins we just can’t help but love!

… Disney Villains and Characters

Children of all ages are going to love staring down the infamous Disney Villains and becoming accomplices to their demonic deeds. Cruella De Vil, Captain Hook, Jafar and the wicked witch from Snow White take vile pleasure in posing with young guests and giving them a wonderful souvenir of the year’s biggest monster mash. Mickey and Friends have also spread the word to give guests a memorable welcome decked out in their finest Halloween costumes.

… Mickey’s Magical Party takes on the colors of Halloween

More enchanting than ever in her delightful witch costume, Minnie leads the dance in Town Square. Disney Characters take advantage of this scare-a-licious month to don their mischievous pumpkin masks as they ride Minnie’s Party Train in all its Halloween splendor.

Meanwhile, the Disney Villains have spent all day preparing to invade the stage during the final show It’s Party Time… with Mickey & Friends. Captain Hook, Gaston, Jafar, Frollo, Cruella De Vil, Maleficent the witch from Sleeping Beauty and other fiendish folk are going to perform a devilish rendition of the “Mickey Dance” on the new Central Plaza Stage. It feels so good to be bad, and they’ll do whatever it takes to ensure we never forget!

… Disney Once Upon a Dream Parade to a Halloween tune

The Disney Once Upon a Dream Parade will kick-off with a special Halloween theme, as the Pumpkin Men and Ladies join in the abominably bewitching parade, along with Jack and Sally from Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas and the Disney Villains, of course!

The spectrrrrraaaaaaaacular month of Halloween is also your last chance to get down to an intergalactic beat with DJ Stitch and the “It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland” show. Hurry, his space mission ends on 8 November 2009.

And for that fiendish final touch, Disney’s Halloween Festival continues with parties you won’t want to miss to enjoy Halloween to the max!

Disney’s Halloween Party: 31 October is Ghoul’s Night Out!

Guaranteed to be a scream! Get ready for the most magical night of the year at Disneyland Paris! The now-famous Disney’s Halloween Party* will take place on 31 October 2009 in Disneyland Park. A one-of-a-kind experience to enjoy with family and friends from 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.

By the light of the moon, Disneyland Park will reopen its doors to a most terrifying atmosphere featuring a wide variety of events, surprises and boo-groovy music until the late-night hours:

  • Spooktacular street entertainment and stage shows throughout the evening
  • The Disney’s Fantillusion Parade led by the vicious Disney Villains, where the world of darkness meets the enchanted world in a fantastic twilight spectacular.
  • A special Halloween Sound and Light show with the fangtangulous backdrop of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

And oodles of other dreadfully delectable surprises!

*Paid event: €32 for adults and children, free for children under 3.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Want to celebrate Halloween in pure Disney style that’s fun without being scary? Then Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Party is the place to be!** Four dream opportunities for family fun with Mickey and Friends in their most boo-tiful Halloween costumes on 9, 16, 23 and 27 October 2009 from 8 to 11 p.m. with tricks and treats galore! Places are limited to this one-of-a-kind event for children of all ages who just can’t wait to get dressed up. Disney Characters and Villains will be there to create an exclusive and interactive experience of exciting and truly unforgettable moments.

In addition to exclusive events and shows, guests will enjoy access to a number of attractions in Disneyland Park open especially for the grand occasion: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio’s Fantastic Journey, Lancelot’s Carousel, Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups, “It’s a small world”, Sleeping Beauty Castle in Fantasyland and Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland. And the fearsome Phantom Manor and the legendary Big Thunder Mountain in Frontierland.

**Paid event: €25 for adults and children, free for children under 3.

All the fun and fantastical ingredients are there to make Disney’s Halloween Festival the most monstrously magical month of the year at Disneyland Paris, from 3 October to 1 November 2009.

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Did you get all that? Let’s have a quick recap of what’s new…

  • Disney Villains invade It’s Party Time with Mickey and Friends — this is instead of the standalone Disney Villains’ Halloween Showtime which used the previous stage during daytimes in 2007 and 2008.
  • Minnie’s Party Train also takes on a Halloween theme with decorations — no wonder poor old Casey Jr. huffs and puffs with all the extra layers on top of him these days.
  • Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade slated to “kick off” with a Halloween theme — suggesting it’ll be similar to last year’s pre-parade, a few special floats running separately to the main parade, rather than a full overlay — which had actually been rumoured to happen for Christmas and/or Halloween this year.
  • Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties return for a second year on 9th, 16th, 23rd and 27th October, with the big plus being that the event has broken out of its Fantasyland-only confines of the first year and now allows access to Adventureland and Frontierland. It will be interesting to see, now, how they go about properly differentiating it from the 31st October Disney’s Halloween Party, other than just being a cut-down version…
  • And as for the Halloween Soirée itself, this press release lists only a “light and sound show” — rather than the usual fireworks. We’ll have to wait and see…

Of course, Halloween often has other events beyond these widely-communicated ones above. There’s the temporary Trick or Treat Stage in Frontierland, for example, usually home to small shows like Goofy and the Magic Cauldron.

Good news here — we’ve heard that plans have been moving ahead for Jack Skellington and Sally to take on stronger roles than just meet ‘n’ greet characters, by taking part in their own show on this special Halloween stage next to Cowboy Cookout Barbeque.

As with all creations starring these characters, the event has even been approved by Tim Burton himself. However, with the official website listing only a “brand new, devilish show to the sound of your favourite Disney hits” starring “the witches”, has another new Halloween plan already been scuppered?

Pictures © Disney.

Friday, 31st July 2009

Did we miss anything..?

Well yes, quite a lot obviously. Just shows you shouldn’t go wandering into the Adventure Isle caves just before park closing… it’s been four long months!

If you’ve been similarly deprived of Disneyland Resort Paris news, given up trying to translate what they’re saying on the French forums, sit back and enjoy a quick and concise round-up of all the big stories of recent months — here we go!

SLEEPING BEAUTY’S BLING

Was it coincidence that updates here ended just about the time that Sleeping Beauty Castle succumbed to its most horrific, misguided meddling-with to date?

The birthday cake, the jester’s hat, the Epcot wand, the MGM hat… you’ve met your match. There truly aren’t enough negative adjectives in the dictionary.

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MAGICAL PARTY LAUNCHES WITH MEGA-PARTY

‘You’re invited!’ …but not to this. Press and media types were schmoozed in spectacular fashion as new theme year Mickey’s Magical Party kicked off with fireworks, projections, lights and so many characters they couldn’t even all fit on the damn stage.

Did it generate headlines, articles, media coverage? No.

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ACTUAL PARTY GROWS ON FANS

Frustratingly-titled new Central Plaza show ‘It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends’ initially looked rather like a drab flop on an overbearing and unnecessary new stage, but it has grown on most fans. The score by Vasile Sirli is actually plain fantastic (especially considering the lacklustre music in the year’s other new shows) and it provides a fresh, colourful heart for the year.

Watch the full show in HD here.

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ShoulderKids – this year’s must-have accessory

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LIGHT MAGIC GIVEN FORMAL APOLOGY

Over in Discoveryland, the other show with an annoying name — ‘It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland’ — brought delights such as large, primary-coloured circles on the floor of a retro-futuristic land, and the expertly-chosen hits of Block Party Bash.

Despite the show being considered terrible on every level by most who’ve seen it, the performers put so much effort and energy into their routine they each almost deserve a window on Main Street.

Watch the full show in HD here.

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PLAYHOUSE DISNEY QUIETLY OPENS

Beyond the forced MMP hoopla over the other side of the esplanade, Walt Disney Studios Park gained a brand new attraction — its fifth addition since opening — in ‘Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage!’. Jolly good fun it is too — wonderfully staged, very charming. The Paris version even has a “1 Up” on the two earlier versions with a big new pre-show studio.

Watch the full show in HD here.

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Credit crunch souvenirs

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RESTAURANT GENERIQUE

Changing its name to ‘Restaurant des Stars’, the far too interestingly-named ‘Rendez-Vous des Stars Restaurant’ gained a new logo, some new colours and a new entrance canopy.

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DUDE LOOKS LIKE A FIRE!

In a quite bizarre coincidence, just days after fans launched an online April Fool suggesting Aerosmith would be succeeded by French rocker Johnny Hallyday as musical guests at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, a fire began in the roof of the showbuilding.

Luckily the damage was minor — though it did allow for these dramatic photos (below) as the inspection crews ripped off the cladding, checked and replaced it. The attraction reopened just the next day.

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SMEE GIVEN SURGERY

Captain Hook’s bumbling first mate was given a random makeover by the worldwide Disney Parks character team and, unlike most famous faces, he returned from the cosmetic surgery with a face more expressive than before. Remarkable.

Hopefully they’ll tackle some of the clearly worse-looking characters next, like the dead-eyed Woody, Jessie and Buzz…

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HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL PARTY!

Now back for a third year, the Studios’ High School Musical show this year gained musical numbers from the third film but stopped short of going for the full ‘HSM3’ show the other resorts put on. ‘I Want it all’ is the standout number, but one that certainly won’t win over any new fans.

Watch the full show in HD here.

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THEMED SMOKING

The ‘Smoking Areas’ inside the parks had been extended little beyond their miniature park map icons, so it’s reassuring to see that each area now has its own themed sign, tied into the location. Give it a few years and the public might actually use them.

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STUDIO STORE OPENS UP

Behind construction walls last time we saw it, the Walt Disney Studios Store has now been completed, with three new doors and payment desks in front of new, large windows.

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Photo: dlrptimes.com

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Photo: dlrptimes.com

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STORYBOOK ENDING

Main Street has always had the best-kept exteriors of the entire park, always popping with a fresh bit of paint here or there. A new development in recent years are the nice tarpaulin coverings given images of the building hiding behind. Even for tiny spots like this one on the end of The Storybook Store, the hidden façade is still presented on top.

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PLAZA GARDENS GLEAMS

After a major refurbishment of the interior, including bringing the central fountain back to daily life, the whole Plaza Gardens Restaurant building was wrapped in themed tarps for an expensive top-to-bottom refurbishment and repaint. It didn’t stand out as being particularly bad before, there are other areas needing paint sooner, but it does look fantastic.

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STUDIO 1 REFURBISHMENT CONTINUES

Over the hub, it’s surprising to see that the refurbishment of Disney Studio 1 continues, the huge centrepiece building of the park still wrapped up in scaffolding. Must be a bigger job than originally thought, right?

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FLOORS OF ADVENTURE, DISCOVERY

Tripped up in Disneyland Park recently? No wonder, some of the concrete pathways are literally falling to pieces. Thankfully, the first resurfacing works seen for many years have been taking place, with areas of Adventure Isle and vast swathes of Discoveryland closed off and given new flooring, the effect — especially just in front of Space Mountain — very noticeably making the whole land look brand new.

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TENNIS, MICE, MAIN STREET

Some of the resort’s press and advertising efforts have been surprisingly inventive this year, like this — turning the top of Main Street into a full-size tennis court and inviting Gaël Monfils and Stanislas Wawrinka to play with Mickey Mouse.

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Just a few days later, Serena Williams visited the park and was met in front of the Castle by Minnie Mouse, wearing a special tennis player costume.

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JUST ‘PARIS’

Effectively the biggest change of the past few months, the news in April and subsequent official changeover in May that has seen ‘Disneyland Resort Paris’ — the resort’s name since the 2002 opening of Walt Disney Studios Park — change back to just plain ‘Disneyland Paris’.

It certainly makes sense — the extra word was always unpopular, confusing to non-English speakers and now, with every park from Alton Towers to your local fairground claiming itself as a “Resort”, it simply doesn’t have any value. “Disneyland Resort Paris” is cumbersome and never spoken, “Disneyland Paris” is short and very strong. Whilst things like the official website have changed over, don’t expect this to be an overnight transition — the new (or rather, old) logo will reappear just as and when things need replacing.

Unfortunately, this decision — made by new CEO Philippe Gas himself — came in April, just weeks after the resort had launched a whole new brand campaign for the theme year. These traditionally start in April, and everything from Cast Member name tags to park tickets and guidemaps had already been printed up with the full “Disneyland Resort Paris” name. Smart name reversal, silly timing.

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There’s also a whole myriad of logo variations now available (above). Which should be used, when? The standard logo is being presented as two-colour, with the “Paris” in a gold gradient that already looks rather dated.

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BURNING FIRES, FLOWING WATERS

Tasked with bringing back old and forgotten effects, a new “taskforce” within the resort’s maintenance department has been one of the most positive steps in recent months. We already appear to have seen some brilliant reawakened touches, such as the torches on Fort Comstock at the entrance to Frontierland (lit from nightfall)…

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And the water channels leading to the drinking fountains beside La Cabane des Robinson.

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Whilst a long way short of having the full irrigation system working again (water should be hoisted right up to the top of the tree by the water wheel, before being poured out and running through the channels back to ground level), it’s great to think someone took the time to figure this out.

Elsewhere, these moving fairground balloons inside Boardwalk Candy Palace have been back working again, for the first time in years.

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CAFE DE LA BROUSSE

Mostly sitting closed, Café de la Brousse has never the less just had a large-scale refurbishment completed, bringing colour back to the “bush café” buildings. Dole is presented heavily as the host, but still no one thinks of bringing the legendary Dole Whip to Paris!

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DISNEY VILLAGE NOW ‘COOL’

So. It took a Starbucks to make Disney Village “hip” again.

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Yes, it meant losing the wonderful Buffalo Trading Co. and inviting a quite equally despised/appreciated corporation into a Disney-branded area, but the coffeehouse itself was built using genuinely eco-friendly ideas and looks really quite trendy inside, with a wonderfully modern exterior — industrial elements clashing beautifully with earthy materials.

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ROSES PAINTED RED, FINALLY!

The on-off refurbishment of Alice’s Curious Labyrinth — with little areas regaining sparkle each month or so — has continued, the Paris-exclusive attraction even seeing… new paint! The red edgings of the entire labyrinth have finally been repainted, a year after similar edgings on the Fantasyland-Discoveryland path received paint before them, and scenes like the Caterpillar suddenly “pop” like they should again:

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ROBINSONS RETURN TO LA CABANE

Also brought back to life this Summer is La Cabane des Robinson, previously the only other “blackspot” alongside the Labyrinth. For too long the treehouse has been bleak and worn. Props missing, effects broken, no colour. It was as if the Robinsons had long ago moved on from their treetop abode. Not any more — refreshed woodwork, new props and a complete clean-up really make it “pop”. Effects like the self-playing organ are still missing.

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Even the water fountains were revisited and given an extra spruce-up:

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WOODCARVER’S WORKSHOP RE-OPENS

Not entirely the amazing news that might suggest, but nevertheless the long-abandoned Woodcarver’s Workshop over in Cottonwood Creek Ranch, next to what is now Woody’s Roundup, has finally been brought back into service — selling drinks and souvenir photos from the character meet ‘n’ greets inside.

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A long way from the actual woodcarvers who used to create personalised souvenirs here, but good to see it alive and well in some form, eh?

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ENCHANTED FIREWORKS DAMPENED AGAIN

The Enchanted Fireworks have returned for their second year — dampened again in similar style to the later shows last year, when the nearby town of Chessy apparently banged on the wall and issued a loud “shhh”. Fans, and even apparently some regular guests, aren’t too impressed with the “new” show.

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ATTRACTION OPEN 12:00 – 12:05

The same limited opening schedule of attractions put in place last Summer has returned again this year, with visitors taking much more notice. Some say it’s fair enough that they have to close attractions early, since most people have headed to Main Street to watch Fantillusion, whilst others leave annoyed that the park’s advertised opening time of 10am to 11pm isn’t strictly true.

Most agree that the whole situation would be better if the limited openings schedule was at least published somewhere other than only at the attraction entrances themselves — on the tips board, in the Programme leaflet, for example.

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GOOGLE EARTH 3D: WORTH THE WAIT

The much-publicised and subsequently much-delayed official 3D recreation of Disneyland Paris in Google Earth finally launched in mid-May and proved to be well worth the wait, offering a truly spectacular metre-by-metre recreation of every inch of the parks and resort. Visit www.disneylandparis.com/googleearth3d and lose a few hours.

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A few days later, Google Street View was also added for small stretches of each park:

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BROCHURE TESTS THE LIMITS

Have you seen the brochures and advertising for Walt Disney World? How grand and high-class it all looks. For Paris, however, the brochures in particular seem to be getting ever more garish and in-your-face with each publication. The latest, current brochure for Autumn/Winter 2009/10 features some truly frightening images of blurred children flying above the parks, with so much photoshopping and saturated colour you can barely see the resort they’re trying to advertise.

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The actual, printed version also comes with a bizarre claim on the cover of “First ever interactive brochure”. Beyond the cut-out on the cover (Mickey is actually on the page behind), the only evidence of this is a French (+33) mobile number you can text to get a video trailer of the new theme year. Several weeks later, nothing received here.

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VAT REDUCTION? VAT CHANCE

The French government has officially lowered the VAT rate for cafés and restaurants from 19.6% to just 5.5% in order to keep the industry afloat, and, while you’ll certainly find many notifications of this within the resort, you’ll be much harder pressed to actually find reductions.

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Whilst some things, especially the Half Board vouchers, have come down in price, most scenarios have just seen the prices stay the same and Disneyland Paris pocketing the difference in order to prop up the large drop in food and beverage sales this year — mostly on account of the prices being too high during a recession. Good thinking.

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ICE CREAM ARRIVES ON-SET

Walt Disney Studios Park must have been the only theme park in the world without a proper ice cream location until the latest change in its food & beverages offering. The Franklin Department Store façade (similar to the exterior of Gone Hollywood at DCA, international fans) gave up its wonderful 1950s-themed period window to become a new kiosk serving actual, real Ben & Jerry’s by the scoop.

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Photo: dlrptimes.com

The lost window was more interesting than the one remaining, featuring a mannequin woman sitting with a 1950s travel magazine, retro television and monster/sci-fi movie poster. The Tower of Terror across the way has such a minimal build-up in Paris that small period-setting details like this really mattered — the Imagineers would have put an ice cream kiosk in there from the start otherwise.

Couldn’t such a vital theme park component as ice cream have commanded its own building somewhere? Rather than expanding, the park almost seems to be imploding, with under-sized kiosks popping up all over where real, full-size boutiques and restaurants should be. More than anything, one single serving window for this in such a prominent position is madness.

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BLOCKBUSTERS IN THE BACKLOT

Over in Backlot, the big news has been the complete gutting of Backlot Express, the “props warehouse” counter service restaurant, in favour of the more brand-friendly idea of themed rooms dedicated to the Pirates of the Caribbean and High School Musical franchises. The changeover began with the arrival of a plain Ford Focus outside the restaurant, plastered with “HSM3” stickers…

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The new logo has been completed on the outside…

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And as for the inside? Well, real props from these two trilogies have yet to appear, with the High School Musical area causing much fan hair-tearing already with its “themeing” of bland posters, banners and mini basketballs (taken from merchandise). The “East High” theme does sit well within the building, but this isn’t anything someone with a good printer could set up themselves. Are there not even any costumes from the film lying around over in Burbank?

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Beyond the “torn bedsheets” (as described by magicforum members) hanging from the ceiling, the ‘Pirates’ area has defied the odds and just presented the first real surprise of this project — the removal of the metal railings of the raised “garage” area to be replaced with pirate ship-styled wooden banisters and a full ship’s wheel.

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TELEVISION STUDIOS GOES ’50s

…Or is that wishful thinking? With a long-overdue repaint of the Walt Disney Television Studios building (home to Playhouse and Stitch Live) finally beginning back in April and only just making real progress, have the maintenance teams really taken a step back and reconsidered the building, rather than just bursting ahead with the same ugly yellows the original designers chose in 2002?

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Yes, it seems so! The architecture was already within the period, but the colours didn’t quite fit. Now, a deep red has replaced the turquoise on the “fins” atop the building, with the yellow turning a much more earthy, peachy shade, in whole much closer to a 1950s Hollywood look and more pleasing next to the subdued tones of the Hollywood Tower Hotel just opposite.

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ANIMAGIQUE KIOSK MARK II

The bland merchandise kiosk which appeared outside Animagique in 2007 now has a partner. Filling in dead space on the right of the same TV Studios building, this little location opened just this week, using the new colour scheme and dressed up in a pleasingly similar style of fins and neons.

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Photo: Sean Hamilton

In any other Disney park, such a location would be given a name or some kind of personality (think Crossroads of the World at Disney’s Hollywood Studios). It offers the usual generic collection of character merchandise.

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ROCKEFELLER PLAZA REBORN

Could this be the start of a new era for the environs of Disney’s Hotel New York? The Rockefeller Plaza building, a dull games arcade for far too long, has finally reopened as a lovely café refreshments location for the Summer.

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MICKEY SWINGS INTO — AND ONTO — BUFFALO BILL’S

It was the controversy of the year — nay, the decade — and now it looks like Mickey Mouse has made home. The not-so-great poster previously stuck on the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show entrance has just been replaced by a large model of Mickey Mouse abseiling down over the building.

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Whilst it looks much smarter now, it has fans worried that the mouse may well be there to stay. On the subject of the show itself, the current Summer park programme leaflets are now advertising Adult tickets for the price of Child tickets. In high season? Maybe adding a mouse wasn’t the best way to sell the scale of this truly epic dinner show.

— — —

FASTPASS FOR MONEY

This one must be the second-biggest controversy of the year, then. In itself not a huge thing by any means, this could however be the first step of a huge shift in how Fastpass works. From 18th July to 4th August, guests staying at Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Hotel New York and, it seems, Disney’s Newport Bay Club, can buy a special “Premium FASTPASS” for €80 per person per day.

The ticket is effectively a VIP FASTPASS, the unlimited-access ticket previously given only to guests in Club rooms and Suites, allowing you to use the FASTPASS queues for attractions as and when you want, as many times as you want to.

— — —

STUDIO 1 REFURBISHMENT CONTINUES

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GOOFY’S SUMMER CAMP

Somewhere you won’t find Mickey this year is the new show at The Chaparral Theater in Frontierland. Yes, since we last updated the topic, The Tarzan Encounter was cancelled again — for good.

This new show is somewhat like the Summer cousin to the brilliant Mickey’s Winter Wonderland, only scuppered by a desperation for audience interaction, with too few scenes between. However, with a live country band as the big “plus” to replace the Winter ice rink, a great stage and some nice musical numbers, it’s winning more fans than certain other shows this year, and much more fitting for its location than Tarzan ever was.

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MAIN STREET COMES ALIVE WITH MARCHING BAND

Last seen making brief appearances last Summer on the old Central Plaza Stage, the brass band has returned! Now performing a brilliant set of Disney music (even including Hans Zimmer’s Pirates score!) on Town Square, this is the kind of classic Disneyland entertainment we rarely see in Paris, so enjoy! The only problem — no one, not the makers of the park programme, nor the Cast Members inside City Hall, appear to have been given their performance schedule.

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CARL’S HOUSE FLIES OVER FRANCE

The real-life version of the balloon-lifted house from Pixar’s next — and 10th — major hit, “Up”, travelled over to France recently and, amongst appearing in some truly spectacular hot air balloon festivals, paid a visit to Disneyland Paris early one morning.

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AND FINALLY…

Who’d have known — the Sleeping Beauty fountain inside the Castle gallery was actually meant to trickle down into the waterfall below, beside the staircase, as one, complete water system! Now, after truly years of being turned off and ignored, it’s fixed and running. The “crystal” at the bottom of the falls glows, too!

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Photo: pussinboots

Wonderful. Utmost appreciation to whoever made this happen.

— — —

So there you go, DLRP Today returns!

With thanks to www.photosmagiques.com!

Sunday, 22nd March 2009

Hub pathway modifications finished

Unsure what to expect, we reported in February with the slightly cheeky title, ‘Widening the Party escape routes‘, that the famous pathways around the foot of Central Plaza were undergoing some of their first modifications since the opening of Disneyland Park back in 1992.

The park is “famous” for these kind of pathways because they’re so different to almost every other Magic Kingdom-style park, snaking through the greenery of the plaza and providing perfect, quick escape routes after a nighttime parade or fireworks. Would the modifications open them up too much, ruin the clever layout?

Disneyland Park Hub

Disneyland Park Hub

Luckily, not at all! The two affected areas are the pathway from Crockett Road (left of Main Street) to Frontierland, which has been widened, and the patio seating areas of Plaza Gardens, one of which has been opened up with with an extra set of stairs.

How does it look in real life? Well, admin Scrooge of Disney Magic Interactive forum has posted up and excellent series of before and after views — let’s take a look…

Crockett Road before:

Disneyland Park Hub

And after:

Disneyland Park Hub

The entire path has been widened quite significantly, but more noticeable from Main Street is that the entrance has been opened up with a much bigger curve, pushing the plants right back as far as the gas lantern. The new path will make this alternative route much clearer, allowing guests to bypass Central Plaza completely (when it’s taken over by It’s Party Time, several times a day).

Notice, though, that another famous detail of the park has still been implemented back into the path — the change between the lands. Suddenly, the clean stone curbs of Main Street become a rocky stone border as you set off en route for the Far West!

Plaza Gardens before:

Disneyland Park Hub

And after:

Disneyland Park Hub

This change is a little more daring for the people re-Imagineering the hub. These terrace areas were previously very hidden amongst the gardens, accessible only by a single pathway. Now, as you walk toward Plaza Gardens Restaurant from the hub, they’ve connected up the area on your right with the pathway which leads from the Tips Board to Discovery Arcade.

There’s now therefore the possibility of an additional route between Main Street and the eastern side of Central Plaza, for Discoveryland and Fantasyland, plus the benefit that more people might discover these often-overlooked seating areas.

Disneyland Park Hub

All in all, some fairly minimal changes to ease flow through the Plaza during shows, completed to a very high standard indeed. Only a fan would know the paths weren’t always like this.

In fact, only fans like us would care! Happy exploring…

Aerial view: Google; Pictures: Scrooge.

Sunday, 22nd March 2009

New Central Plaza Stage complete!

With the colourful construction walls down, we get our first look at the “new” Central Plaza that’ll be with us for at least the next year. So far: no flowers, fewer trees and one giant show space you simply can’t miss.

Central Plaza Stage
Photo: Scrooge, Disney Magic Interactive.

The gates of the old plaza stage have been moved outwards and supplemented with new additional, matching railings and concrete columns. Seen from this view, the slightly lower satellite platforms of the new stage fills your entire line of sight from left to right, each given decorative edging and sympathetic red and yellow tops to sit well in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Central Plaza Stage Central Plaza Stage
Photos: Fabawan, Main Street Gazette.

Even the four sets of stairs up to the new Central Plaza Stage have been decorated rather well, with low walls and matching end columns. Despite what we’ve seen of the construction revealing it to have quite a hollow and temporary build, from every angle now that it’s complete, the stage looks as good as permanent.

Central Plaza Stage
Photo: Fabawan, Main Street Gazette.

With this vast a performance space, at least, we can begin to understand why the signature It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends show will have a cast of 40 — of which around 30 alone will be dancers.

Central Plaza Stage

So far, the stage is surrounded only by flat grass. Considering the wonders worked by the resort’s gardening team to celebrate the 15th Anniversary, it’s still hoped that the reworked hub will see a colourful flower or two to break up the slightly desolate feel at the moment, and soften the very imposing walls of the stage itself.

Central Plaza Stage

Speaking of those walls — the satellite stage nearest the Castle looks as if it holds a secret or two. Like the stages before it, a removable panel has been built into the side to allow projection equipment for events like The Enchanted Fireworks to continue to be run from here.

Central Plaza Stage

But these satellites aren’t universally popular. Though they’re certainly a fair bit lower than the main stage itself, fans have been quick to realise that, if you arrived early and stood right in front of one of the platforms, it’s just that little bit too high to allow you to also see the main stage itself. Which would, to be honest, be quite a shame, since that’s where Mickey and many of the characters will be “bursting” out from, thanks to a hidden vertical stage lift we’ve mentioned previously.

Central Plaza Stage

So, ever planning their next magical trip to the resort, the fans of magicforum have already sussed out the best place to stand for the new show. Definitely not in front of one of the satellites, but just slightly to the left or right. Better still, facing the Castle — where the two arrows above are, and as shown in the picture below.

Central Plaza Stage
Photo: Tef, Disney Central Plaza.

Though, even here, you’ll face the perils of bright lights from the opposite side of the stage in your eyes, or parade poles, trees or even lampposts (which still, strangely, remain around the inner Plaza). Let the sussing-out continue…!

Photos as credited.

Sunday, 22nd March 2009

Mickey Star winners chosen for opening ceremony

The Mickey Star TV advertising campaign we featured back in February has reached its penultimate stage just a week before the main event, as the host of this series of special commercials arrived on the doorsteps of four children to tell them they’d been chosen to dance on-stage with Mickey Mouse at Disneyland.

Playing off the continuing success of the many television talent shows, Mickey Star invited children to audition for a part in the opening ceremony of Mickey’s Magical Party. And, as if by magic, these children were even lucky enough to have a film crew already inside their house, before they were told…

These four new stars will be joining the Mouse himself on the new Central Plaza Stage on Saturday 28th March during a special press-only event after regular park closure. They’ll have their moment in the spotlight captured on camera, and it’ll form the basis of an extended advert for the events on French channel TF1 just a day later, 29th March 2009.

Video: Mouetto, Dailymotion.

Sunday, 22nd March 2009

Subtler balloons continue to re-market the Party

That shiny new image used to launch the resort’s print advertising campaign for this year’s events was just the first of many, DLRP Today can now reveal.

Floating in a calm blue sky was a silver balloon “reflecting” an image of It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends, the new signature Central Plaza show. It was certainly a different approach to the saturated, really quite garish marketing images we’d seen earlier.

Now, there are three more images in the same style — is Mickey’s Magical Party being magically re-marketed before it even begins?

Mickey's Magical Party advertising

The first image, above, is the original image used in the magazine advertisements, featuring “VIPs” Donald Duck and Goofy alongside Mickey Mouse on the stage, rather than the secondary Timon and Aladdin of the earlier visual.

Below, Minnie’s Party Train gets another Photoshop re-imagining, this time adding more polka dots and plenty more characters to its carriages.

Mickey's Magical Party advertising

Though, as yesterday’s early preview in the park confirmed, the actual final design of the train is still rather different indeed.

Finally, Stitch gets another fairly nondescript visual to advertise It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland, continuing to show it more alike a modern, rock concert atmosphere than the actual scfi-kitsch of the real show.

Mickey's Magical Party advertising

It’s interesting that these visuals are available from Disneyland Resort Paris alongside the earlier poster-style images — they haven’t been replaced, but they certainly look rather less appealing than these new designs above.

Just a shame, perhaps, that these weren’t available sooner, when the original brochures for this year went to press, rather than two weeks before the event begins…

Images © Disney.

Monday, 9th March 2009

Central Plaza Stage rolls out the red carpet

And there we were, thinking the end of the 15th Anniversary on Saturday would be the last we’d see of any red carpets for a while… wrong! The new Central Plaza Stage has now been given its final top: a water-proof, slip-proof red carpet with Mickey Mouse shapes and outlines in golden yellow.

Central Plaza Stage works

The stage, at least, won’t be anywhere near as brash and modern as some of the Mickey’s Magical Party advertising. Its sides — pre-formed plastic/fibreglass-type panels — are remarkably faithful to the original Imagineering designs nearby, continuing to present little medieval inlets and holes in a similar style to the lower brickwork of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant and particularly Le Théâtre du Château nearby.

Central Plaza Stage works

Above, a larger opening can be seen — likely the place where characters will disappear under the the stage only to reappear via the vertical lift in the centre of the main stage later in the show.

Central Plaza Stage works

And, if they’d rather use the stairs, they’re in luck — contrary to earlier views we’ve seen, a full side-on view as above reveals these are far wider and lower than expected, making the climb up or down from the new stage far easier than the tricky old steps.

The work for the arrival of It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends doesn’t stop here, however. As reported previously, the pathways to the South either side of Central Plaza are being widened to allow more guests through whilst the plaza itself is filled with guests watching the show.

Central Plaza Stage works Central Plaza Stage works

Particularly between Main Street, USA and Frontierland, the entire area is now surrounded by construction walls and tarpaulins, with not a single chance of a view inside.

• See Mickey’s LED-illuminated new costume for the show here!
• See a full video preview of a segment from the show here!

Pictures: PhotosMagiques.com

Friday, 6th March 2009

It’s Party Time: Cast of 40, live host (preview video)

Continuing on from the reveal of Mickey’s signature costume for the show and a preview of Discoveryland’s addition to the celebrations, the time came for the MC to introduce the main event of Mickey’s Magical Party.

But, surprisingly, it wasn’t Mickey who began the show, but Sébastien — a live speaking host. In fact, Mickey Mouse didn’t appear until around 10 minutes into this 15-minute performance, which the MC described as “an exact take out of the show”…

The video begins with a quick interview with the show’s director, Christophe Leclercq, during which the host announces a quite startling fact about It’s Party Time…with Mickey and Friends: a cast of 40 people on-stage! And absolutely correct that is — as Poppy the Monkey on magicforum confirms, there will be about 30 dancers alone, many brought to the resort from Disneyland in California, with the remaining cast members being the Disney characters on each of the five areas of the new stage.

Compared to the meagre casts of Candleabration, which dwindled from a large cast of flag bearers and dancers to just the seven VIP characters and eventually just Mickey and Minnie, this represents a show on an unprecedented scale for the resort in recent years — performing five times a day, too.

Also confirmed by Poppy the Monkey is more of the show’s running order. There will indeed be a live speaking host, and the dancers (in orange and white) will open the show, joined by the Disney Characters who will appear together via the new under-stage lift. Mickey Mouse, wearing that “luminous” new costume, will appear even later in the show, via the same lift.

As for the show itself, the preview above shows most of the final characters who will appear: Mickey, Pluto, Baloo, Timon, Tigger, Donald and Peter Pan. Wendy and Goofy will complete the final line-up. The actual premise seems a little hard to pin down, and the heavy emphasis on guest interaction and learning dance moves seems to overlap somewhat with It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland.

One of the most promising aspects of the preview above is the addition of various international, European dance styles — such as Spanish salsa and Irish dance — whilst the modern, jazz-orientated instrumental soundtrack appears to be brand new just for this show.

Video by Photos Magiques.

Thursday, 5th March 2009

Glow of Mickey’s “luminous” Party outfit revealed!

Yes, the Mouse won’t be wearing his traditional suit in black, white, red and yellow, as shown in all the preview images, when he bursts upward onto the new Central Plaza Stage come April. The costume designers, including Head of Costuming Sue Lecash, have imagined a flashy new costume for the star of the show.

Shiny crisp white from head to toe, this new suit for It’s Party Time… with and Mickey and Friends has one special hidden feature. It was officially revealed in a preview video which played on the big screen at a special trade partners event earlier this week.

Take a look:

Stitched up with ultra-bright LED lights, the suit glows in colours of pink and blue, animating to a rhythm across the fabric to make it appear “luminous” when seen in daylight during the show. With its rope/pipe-like wavy lights stitched across the front and back, it perhaps event makes Mickey’s other illuminating outside — from Disney’s Fantillusion — seem subtle.

Curiously, the video ended with some shots of concept art for other Mickey Mouse costumes — we assume the ones which didn’t make the tailors’ cut.

Well, their final design is certainly only something Mickey could pull off.

Video by PhotosMagiques.com.

Monday, 2nd March 2009

Shiny new visual launches Party print ad campaign

Advertisements for Mickey’s Magical Party are generating a lot of interest in the resort right now, no doubt helped along by that 40% discount offer.

Just a few seconds ago, for example, an email dropped into the inbox of thousands of Disneyland Resort Paris fans and visitors in the UK:

Mickey's Magical Party advertising

The email shouts “With Mickey’s Magical Party, we’re bursting with New experiences, New shows and a New attraction!”, linking across to the official celebration website — which itself was updated just a few days ago to include some extra videos and photos.

But what about their paid-for advertising campaign? The UK office have sent us a little update on what to expect: “Throughout February and March, we’ll not only be on key TV channels but also in popular magazines, posters in your local supermarkets and online.”

So, open up a popular magazine this month and you might just be treated to be a double-page advertisement for the celebration and the resort, using a shiny new visual of colourful balloons floating through the sky.

Mickey's Magical Party advertising
Photo: Kris, magicforum.

This new print ad doesn’t specifically mention any of the new events, choosing to lead just with the bright new key visual. The biggest balloon in which cleverly reflects a depiction of the main It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends show on Central Plaza, with Timon, Baloo and Aladdin in the background and crowds of eager guests reflected in its ears.

Here’s the full image exclusively on DLRP Today, without the print campaign text:

Mickey's Magical Party advertising

Notice that the stage appears closer to its final design than the earlier marketing images, yet Sleeping Beauty Castle is shown very prominently — without its confirmed decorations.

You’ll probably agree the general colours and style of this beautiful new key visual are also far subtler and nearer to the classic “Disneyland Paris” image we remember — those bright and colourful balloons are still present, but don’t overpower the image.

Images © Disney.

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